This blog post will be part of a 3 part series.
-Part 1: Our Birth Story
-Part 2: Our NICU Journey
-Part 3: The Fourth Trimester
I've been thinking about writing Blakely's birth story ever since she was born, but have found myself putting it off. I wasn't entirely sure why -- I was beginning to blame exhaustion and lack of motivation, however I think it's because my birth experience with her still brings a level of sadness for me if I'm being honest. Not to mention the postpartum issues I've been experiencing (more on that later). While her story very much has a happy ending, my pregnancy, her birth, and my postpartum experience have been much rockier than I expected. It simply goes to show that some things in life you simply cannot plan for.
I found out I was pregnant in early May 2019. My pregnancy with her wasn't exactly planned nor prevented. I had a client reach out to me early one morning asking some questions about my program and the impact it may have on her cycle, and she said that she was "late" and should probably take a pregnancy test. It then dawned on me that I was also late...and should also probably take a pregnancy test! After chatting with my client and driving Beckham to school -- off to CVS I went. I was very surprised and SHOCKED to see that I was pregnant. From the moment the test read positive I had an overwhelming sense that everything would be "okay". You know when a feeling washes over you like a wave -- that was the feeling. And I have clung onto that moment and that feeling countless times since then. My official due date was to be 1/11/2020.
My pregnancy was rough from the start. Not in the way of vomiting, but a constant deep in your bones exhaustion nearly the entire time and nausea. I had no interest in cooking or eating for that matter. I ate out of necessity as I felt sick to my stomach if I didn't. Like many women I ended up consuming lots of carbs during my pregnancy simply because there were times it was all I could stomach. There were days that I couldn't get Beckham to school because the process of getting him ready and taking him simply felt too hard! Needless to say -- I was NOT expecting this. I am so used to doing "all the things" and staying very busy that having such a rough pregnancy really set me back on my heels. There was so much I wanted to accomplish prior to her birth, and I was barely surviving. It was tough on everyone. I also spent a lot of time feeling very frustrated with my body. I went into this pregnancy in great physical shape, yet my body struggled. I felt like I had spent the previous 3 years preparing my body for another pregnancy so feeling as bad as I did was unexpected for me.
The last few weeks of pregnancy my blood pressure began to creep up and remain on the low side of "high". I remember often felt dizzy and disoriented during this time. My doctor was watching me closely, and I just wanted to make it through Christmas. We managed to do that (barely). At my 38 week appointment, two days after Christmas, my doctor decided it was time to pull the trigger due to my BP remaining elevated. I left my appointment on 12/27 with instructions to head home, grab my stuff and head to the hospital to begin my induction. I was a little surprised, but not shocked, My doctor was going to be on call 12/28 so I was relatively certain that would be "go time", however she felt it was time to move the day before. Looking back I can't help but wonder if the overall outcome would have been different if we would have been able to wait.
I went home, grabbed my things, kissed my first baby one last time and off we went to get the party started. I let Beckham know that we would be seeing him again very soon so he could meet his new sister. Obviously we had no idea the turn Blakely's birth would take at that point.
The beginning of my labor process was fairly smooth. I managed not to pass out during the IV this time however it wouldn't be an L&D experience with Lindsey Bush if passing out wasn't involved.....
I was started on pitocin around 1 pm and opted to get my epidural around 4-5 pm before they broke my water. And here's where shit started to go downhill....
During my epidural placement I passed out. I blame the dangling of my legs over the bed causing my blood pressure to bottom out on top of my fear of needles. The anesthesiologist punctured my spinal column during the placement which caused my epidural to feel "odd" in terms of pain management. It was nothing like my epidural with Beckham. Essentially I was given a lower dose of medication because the spinal puncture. The puncture made the medication more potent. I was extremely numb in my legs, but could feel contractions across my belly. It was odd. I shared my concerns several times with my nurse and they began to reposition me frequently using a peanut ball. I was told this was to help bring baby down into the birth canal and better distribute the epidural -- while I believe these two things to be true it was not the whole story. I was also loosely warned by the anesthesiologist that I may experience the most excruciating headache of my life called a "spinal headache" as a result of the puncture, but it was uncommon and I should probably be fine. (Spoiler alert - I was NOT fine!).
Around 11:30pm my nurse checked my cervix and I was dilated to a 5. She told me to let her know when I felt like I needed to go #2 and that would indicate that I was ready to push. I called her in right around midnight and let her know that I was already feeling the urge. I was then fully dilated and ready to push.
When I was pushing with Beckham I could feel no sensation at all. This experience was much different. I could feel the pressure when it was time to push. It felt like trying to hold a bowel movement in, but you couldn't. I felt the pressure of her crowning and the relief of her coming all the way out. It was very strange. I wouldn't call it pain, but pressure. I know everyone says this, but it's truly difficult to describe. I pushed through 3-5 contractions and she was here! I couldn't believe she came so fast. It took no more than 15 minutes of pushing to deliver her. Much different than my HOURS of pushing with Beckham.
Blakely was immediately placed on my chest and was wailing. Beckham came out screaming too, but was easily calmed down. Blakely continued to wail inconsolably. Something seemed off to me immediately. The nurse pretty quickly took her from me to clean her off and check her oxygen saturation. I didn't think much of it at the time as everyone was calm and said it was normal for babies to sometimes need a little oxygen immediately following delivery.
As I lay there delivering my placenta and being stitched back up, the nurses went to work on Blakely. As the doctor stitched me up I asked to see my placenta which was really cool! I got to see her sac too. Ultimately the decision was made to call the NICU team down to have a look at baby. They spent what seemed like several minutes working with her in my room. She was breathing, but they said she was having respiratory distress because she was grunting heavily. The next thing I knew she was taken to the NICU and my mom and Sam followed. And this is when the panic began to set in. I was not allowed to leave my delivery room for 2 hours following labor. I was terrified. Luckily Sam was able to keep me updated via text but at this point we really didn't know much other than our tiny little newborn baby was being poked (IV placed in her head) and prodded, and we were given no clear information other than she was experiencing "respiratory distress". This is when I started to think I could be leaving the hospital without a baby. My immediate fear was that she was going to die. I say this not to be dramatic. Everyone was so vague about everything with her at this point that I really had no idea what to expect and immediately feared the worst. All I knew of the NICU prior to this experience was that this was where the sickest of the sick babies went.
When I was finally released from L&D I was wheeled straight to the NICU. When I laid eyes on my baby for the second time she was on a ventilator and I couldn't hold her, and this began what would become our 7 day NICU journey. I was shattered.
I will close this post with the deepest gratitude that Blakely has made a healthy recovery as I know that is not the case for all babies. My heart goes out to anyone that has experienced their newborn baby in the NICU. It is a roller coaster of emotions and an experience I will never forget. I am deeply thankful that after some extra TLC from the wonderful NICU staff at St. Francis we have a very healthy little girl. I will be sharing the details of our NICU experience in the next post. For all of you that lifted us up in thoughts and prayers during this terrifying time - THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.